Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why Won't Lisbon Officials Reduce Taxes?

Lisbon has had one of the highest tax rates in Androscoggin County for decades. Residents have  complained about this huge tax burden many times. They have  proposed and implemented a number of solutions, none of which have delivered the anticipated  increase in revenues. 

To reduce taxes we must do one of two things, either increase revenues or reduce expenses.  For years we have tried to entice business to Lisbon in an effort to increase our tax base,  this hasn't worked. Could it be the solution to our problem doesn't lie on the revenue side of the tax equation?

If we really want to solve our tax problem we must reduce expenses. I know many in Lisbon can't imagine reducing the size of local government. They see any reduction as a step backwards but I don't see it that way.  I think we must adapt to changing times. What worked in the old paradigm doesn't work any longer. We need to concentrate on making Lisbon BETTER not BIGGER.

In order to reduce spending we need to know where to make the reductions.

 In the past there has been a concerted effort to hide department costs from the public. I don't think Lisbon Officials have done anything illegal but I do think our leaders have manipulated the accounting structure to give the public the impression we are spending less in our Public Safety Department that we actually are.  Many of the expenses entered under "General Government" should be properly placed under the department(s) that generate the expense.  

Examples of this Manipulation:

  • Health insurance being reported under general insurance instead of assigning the cost to the department that employs the worker. This reduces the overall cost of departments that have many employees.
  • FICA payments are another example of costs assigned to a department that doesn't generate the cost.
  • The Police Liability insurance isn't listed as an expense to the Police Department, its assigned as an expense to "general government/Insurance". This makes the Police department budget appear much smaller than it actually is .
  • A few years ago our Police budget grew so large that the "powers that be" decided to remove the dispatchers from the P.D. even though over 95% of their dispatching was for the P.D..  This  change allowed the Police to declare they were much smaller than the actually were.     

I could go on and on with examples but I think you get the picture.  We have all been victims of creative accounting. We have been duped into thinking our Municipal departments are smaller than they actually are.

Its time to wake up and take control of our tax problem and the first step is to rid our town books of this creative accounting that misleads the public. We have been making decisions based on misleading numbers.  

If our finance department isn't capable of this task we need to get professional help from sources outside the group of people that created this mess.

Wake up!  Its time to stop being victims of those that want to use this town as their own personal checkbook. Demand a change.

Respectfully
Joe Hill